A stolen 2,000-pound historic anchor was found buried in a nearby backyard. Photo: Poquoson Museum

Maritime Museum’s Stolen Anchor Found, but Mystery Remains

In September, 2021, Bay Bulletin told you about the bizarre theft of an old anchor from the Poquoson Museum in Poquoson, Va. We can now report that the anchor has been found and returned to the museum. A suspect has been arrested. Nevertheless, many questions remain.

The anchor was an unexpected gift. It dates back to the 1800s, and was donated to the museum in 2003. It is about 8-feet long and weighs around 2800 pounds. It is not easy to move around. At the time it was received, the museum had no place to put it. Because of its size and significant weight, the anchor was placed outside.

The massive anchor is back at its rightful home, the Poquoson Museum. Photo: Poquoson Police Dept.

According to Paul Whitlow, President of the museum, “The anchor was one of about 20 that were donated by a single family from the Fox Hill area.”

The anchor was discovered missing on September 20, 2021. It was recovered by Poquoson Police on June 16, 2022, buried in a backyard in Poquoson. It was returned to museum property on June 18. Volunteers from Cub Scout Troop 28 cleaned the anchor for the museum.

On June 24, 2022, Poquoson Police announced that they have charged Darin Barrack, of Poquoson, for taking the anchor. Barrack, 33, has been charged with grand larceny. Chief Stephen Keatts told Bay Bulletin, “I am fortunate to have some tenacious investigators. They never gave up. We have also
had a lot of community support.” Keatts said that additional arrests are not anticipated at this time.

But the big questions have not been answered. Why was it stolen? How was it stolen? Whitlow still did not have answers to those questions. He did not believe the anchor was stolen for scrap, as the scrap value for old iron is insignificant. Someone had to use heavy equipment to move it.

Whitlow noted, “The anchor was found about 100 yards from where it was stolen. It was buried deeply. It is a fascinating story and we hope to learn more as the case proceeds.”

Whitlow noted that other items were taken along with the anchor, such as mooring blocks. The mooring blocks have also been recovered. They were found in Newport News, Va.

Chief Keatts said he was unable to answer further questions due to the ongoing investigation. However, he corroborated Pretlow’s comment that this is indeed an unusual case, and he is looking forward to the time when the entire tale can be shared.

The museum is planning to put the anchor on display after some additional preservation work. “We are working with the Mariner’s Museum in order to properly restore and display the anchor,” said Pretlow.

The first order of business is finding a place to store the anchor indoors, so it can dry out.

-Kendall Osborne